Turkish journalist imprisoned in Turkey after refoulement from Greece with other asylum seekers

Press release
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Paris - Athens, May 30th, 2017 - An unofficial refoulement from Greece to Turkey took place along the Evros River on May 24th. This time, it concerns Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Greece, among them Murat Çapan, who was a journalist for the magazine Nokta, and is now imprisoned in Turkey where he was previously sentenced for 22,5 years.

The Hellenic League for Human Rights has received allegations concerning the refoulement of Turkish asylum seekers in Evros. The unofficial refoulements from Greece to Turkey of persons that are possibly entitled to international protection, not only have not been terminated, but on the contrary seem to be conducted in concert with Turkish authorities violating even the notion of the rule of law. A recent incident shows the true dimensions of this practice.

According to the information that we have received: Murat Çapan was a journalist for the magazineNokta. He was prosecuted and finally sentenced in absentia to 22,5 years in prison for participation in a terrorist group and attempting to overthrow the constitution. He crossed the river Evros to the Greek side at 06:00 in the morning on May 24th, 2017, along with two of his friends. They reached Didymoteicho where they were picked up by police officers and lead to the police station. There they asked to apply for asylum. In the police station there was also a Turkish family with three children that had crossed Evros. After a while they were told they would be transferred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and were put in a white unmarked van. After a while the van met with another car and they were lead to a field. A group of five masked gunmen, dressed in camo, lead them to the river without saying a single word. The Turkish nationals saw that there was an inflatable boat waiting there and they repeated their demand to apply for asylum. Their hands were bound and they were all put on the boat which crossed to the opposite shore withtwo of the masked gunmen, near an outpost of the Turkish army, where they were abandoned. After a while, they were found by Turkish police officers. Murat Çapan is already in prison, with everything this entails. The family is likewise in detention.

The refoulement to the Turkish authorities of people that are in danger of severe violations of their most basic human rights, if it has indeed taken place, is a blatant violation of international law and it is clear it was not the initiative of the local police force. We demand the immediate investigation of the incident and concrete answers from the relevant ministers concerning the policy that is in effect at the borders. The Hellenic League for Human Rights has already sent an official notice to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees demanding the investigation of the incident.

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